The Foreign Service Journal, November 2023

10 NOVEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS Supporting FS Singles I’m responding to AFSA’s member newsletter of Aug. 22, announcing the 2023 Harriman Award for Constructive Dissent recognizing Christophe Triplett, a first-tour management officer, for advocating for locally employed (LE) staff in samesex relationships, and to the September 2023 FSJ on Foreign Service families. Regarding support for Foreign Service families, including LGBT+ personnel with partners, yes, it’s very important to do that. Just as important, the Foreign Service needs to support singles without “partners,” too. We should treat singles equally by allowing them to designate a plus-one. We don’t need labels, because everybody needs somebody—whether a blood relative, heterosexual or gay partner, or friend. This is important because for years now, singles without partners, who are mostly single heterosexual women, have been discriminated against on many levels. We have received much less overall compensation and no money for travel of a plus-one to help us with packing, health concerns, or emotional well-being. Foreign Service personnel should not need a sexual and/or legalized relationship to designate a plus-one. Action Requested: Get rid of labels and allow every employee going overseas to designate a plus-one to receive the same benefits as married or gay partnered personnel. Support single heterosexual women, too! J Carson FSO, retired Sarasota, Florida The Biden Administration and Immigration The Biden administration’s enforcement of existing immigration law is a farce and an abdication of promises made to legal intending immigrants and locally employed (LE) staff colleagues awaiting Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) processing. While Secretary of State Antony Blinken and those in his chain of command must support the administration’s decision not to enforce existing law under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), AFSA does not have to do so. AFSA should vigorously condemn the current approach, which provides instantaneous self-selecting immigration opportunities to scofflaws, the vast majority of whom hold not even a penumbra of justification for entering the United States uninvited. To the extent the Biden administration enforces the law, it plays a zero-sum game—which is to say, those foolish enough to seek immigration through legal means are punished with additional years of delay. Understandably, this dichotomy has had a devastating impact on the morale of our consular colleagues, both on the visa line and those supervising them, who spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours laboring to uphold the illusion that immigration into the United States continues to be a dignified, controlled process. Much worse, the same policy that makes a mockery of the spirit of the INA is now requiring a slavish adherence to the letter of that act, which identifies annual allocation limits to designated “buckets.” AFSA members may not be aware that because SIV applicants draw from the same “bucket” as those unaccompanied minors flooding into the country, SIV processing may be delayed by as much as 10 years. For all the lip service that State and AFSA give to supporting our LE staff colleagues, we are supposed to stand by silently as they are told to put their plans on hold for years, to make room for those who have earned no place in the process. Our foreign employees worked entire careers in good faith, many at great sacrifice and even personal risk, in the hope of qualifying for an SIV so they could start their lives over again as legal permanent residents (many of whom eventually become our most dedicated American citizens). Implementation of INA is today a bipartisan mess, many years in the making. As the independent voice of foreign affairs professionals, it is incumbent on AFSA to insist loudly that Congress overhaul the current law. The Senate could take up H.R. 3599, passed this year by the House, which substantially increases the numbers of legal immigrants—something both sides of the aisle appear to agree on—and facilitates easier visas for seasonal agricultural workers. Or Congress could start from scratch, if necessary. Our betrayal of LE colleagues must be remedied immediately. Without full enforcement of immigration law as envisioned by the legislative branch, we effectively have no border. Without a say into who enters our country and when, we have lost the ability to choose who we are as a society and a nation. Michael A. McCarthy Ambassador, retired and Nicholas M. Hill SFS, retired n Share your thoughts about this month’s issue. Submit letters to the editor: